Cash or Charge: Pay for it now, or pay much more later.

Even though it’s a long way off, I think about the practice test scores I get on college entrance exams (and what the school academic counselor says I should do!). I think about the interest and investment returns I would get on working even just 4 years and taking night classes. Free tuition is nice, but what about lost income? Most students frankly don’t have the ability to just go out and earn a bachelor’s degree income like I do without a degree.

I made up a spreadsheet on various income/mortgage scenarios and it was quite striking. In terms of lifetime income, a degree can be so expensive when it doesn’t make much difference in your salary.

Life will not all be on the computer, but I see what it can do. I love archiving old recordings with MP3, saving in case of fire. I can really draw out the voices from the noisy old cassette recordings.

Yet what can I do that is really not just something a person can be trained cheaply to do? That’s the difficulty I sometimes have in pinning down what I should be doing, is that I do just about everything with electronics and computers. A lot of people like those things, but few can integrate a total system like I can.

The career assessment test results give me just about as clear a result. I’m interested in law, medicine, and engineering. But would I be such a great lawyer? I have an innate need to do something where I’m among the top in the field. In medicine, the degree length and residency etc. with low income for years is a bit offputting. That leaves engineering with the quickest, surest payback. It would not preclude going into law or medicine should things change.

But what about my current path? Cash or charge? Free is not free. Wouldn’t it make a stronger case for full scholarship to have excellence at night classes and full-time career, then pivot to full-time student for two years to bachelor’s?